Connecticut: Lawmakers Likely to Revisit Adult-Use Legalization Bill in Special Legislative Session

House members failed to hold a floor vote on Senate Bill 1118, which sought to legalize the marijuana market in Connecticut, prior to the close of the 2021 regular legislative session. Senate lawmakers had approved the measure on Monday, and Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont called the legislation a “national model for regulating the adult-use cannabis marketplace.” However, Republicans in the House expressed opposition to the bill and successfully delayed lawmakers from casting their votes on the issue prior to Wednesday’s midnight deadline.

Nonetheless, several lawmakers have indicated that legislators are likely to revisit and pass a similar version of the legislation if a special session is convened in the coming weeks. Earlier this year, Republican lawmakers in New Mexico filibustered adult-use legalization legislation only to see it passed weeks later in a special legislative session demanded by the Governor.

NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf said: “A special session must be convened so that lawmakers can finish the job. Marginalized communities and young people have suffered for decades because of the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws in Connecticut. This bill is a step toward addressing that shameful legacy and it will provide long-needed relief to communities that have historically experienced the collateral consequences of marijuana prohibition. It also would conform Connecticut’s marijuana laws with those of a growing number of neighboring states — like New Jersey, New York, and Vermont — that have wisely moved away from cannabis criminalization and have embraced legalization and regulation. ”

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said: “It is not a question of ‘if’ cannabis is legalized in Connecticut, only a question of ‘when.’ We are hopeful that lawmakers will finish their important work on this issue in the coming weeks. Over two-thirds of Connecticut voters back adult-use legalization and their elected officials have a responsibility to move forward with policies that reflect this position.”

Senate Bill 1118 sought to allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1.5 ounces of cannabis flowers or an equivalent amount of cannabis concentrates in public, and up to five ounces of marijuana in their private residence. Under the proposed measure, adults would have been able to possess cannabis without penalty beginning on July 1, 2021.

The bill also authorized state-registered medical cannabis patients to home-cultivate up to three mature and three immature marijuana plants. That change in law would have taken effect in October. Non-participants in the state’s medical cannabis program were to wait until 2023 until they would be legally permitted to home-cultivate marijuana for their own personal use without any penalties.

Those with past criminal records for activities involving up to four ounces of cannabis would have had their convictions automatically expunged. 

Under the proposed legislation, marijuana flowers available at retail facilities would have been capped at 30 percent THC, while concentrated products (except vape cartridges) would have been capped at 60 percent THC.

Eighteen states have enacted adult-use legalization laws — with four doing so legislatively this year.